Posted: September 29, 2023

63 tons of Marine Debris removed from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Seven honu also freed from nets

Small boat operators and freedivers pull up ghost nets from water.
Photo: Andrew Sullivan-Haskins

A team of freedivers from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project (PMDP) returned from a 28 day September cleanup expedition to PMNM. The team successfully removed a total of 126,310 lbs (63 tons) of marine debris. This was the second large-scale effort of 2023, with a previous PMDP expedition completed during the month of July. The total amount of debris collected by PMDP in the last 90 days now stands at 212,410 lbs (106 tons).

PMDP conducts multiple annual cleanup expeditions to the remote Hawaiian islands, reefs and atolls of Papahānaumokuākea to reduce the risk of entanglement for many species of protected wildlife, to mitigate coral reef damage, and minimize risk of plastic ingestion for seabirds.

Cleanups were conducted at Lalo (French Frigate Shoals), Kamokuokamohoaliʻi (Maro Reef), Hōlanikū (Kure Atoll), and Manawai (Pearl and Hermes Atoll).

Within seven days at Manawai, the team successfully removed 71,760 lbs of derelict fishing nets from the reefs, an average of over 10,000 lb per day. In that same week, the team encountered seven live green sea turtles that had become entangled in ghost nets, including three adults trapped in the same net. Fortunately, the team was able to free all seven turtles.

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